Do Something

Advocacy 101: Finding Your Story

by: Living Water International
April 19, 2015

Advocacy 101 is a guest series written by some of our most innovative fundraisers! Today’s post was written by photographer Andy Stenz in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 2012 he walked across his state (and jumped in Lake Michigan) to raise awareness for the thirsty—raising $25,000 for water projects! In this three-part series he shares his tips to finding—and living out—the exciting story God has for your life, and serving the thirsty through it.

Let me start by saying this: I truly believe you have something to offer the world. I believe the story of your life includes you participating in something you care deeply about. And I'm guessing that because you're reading this, one of the things you care about is clean water. Me, too!

If we look around, we will see we are constantly participating in many stories. Some are big (such as the movement of history and culture) and some are small (like the office March Madness pool). Some we know intimately and some we only read about on the news. Many meaningful ones are found when our story intersects another person's story.

Christians share a common story, one that says God is at work in the world, and He is seeking and preparing people like us to participate with him as he works toward the restoration of all things. 

When we take time to place ourselves in the meaningful stories, we start to craft our story inside of the larger narrative. When we are intentional about our story, we will find a greater opportunity to impact the world.

What’s your story?

I left a 9-to-5 job in 2010 so I could spend more time investing in other people. The next year I read a book that encouraged me to push beyond what I believed I was capable of accomplishing. I already knew giving people access to clean water was something I cared about.

So when I put those three things together—my time, my desire to challenge my own limits, and my heart for clean water and the mission of Living Water International—I decided to walk across Wisconsin to raise money. I didn't know how many of the millions of thirsty people I could help, but I knew I could help some.

Everyone has a story.

Each one of us is living our story, each day. Every heartbeat brings us closer to the end of our story on Earth. We can let it be boring and let life just happen to us, or we can choose to truly participate and help to craft a more interesting story. 

How do you live a more exciting story?

Take stock of where you come from, what you have available, and where you want to go. By actively thinking through those three things we can uncover the next chapter of our story—it can be exciting, rewarding, and life-changing for us and others! Though it may take some time and require you to be introspective, use the questions below as a guide:

  • Who or what do you care about? If I gave you $100k today and you had to spend it to help other people, who would you help? How? Why?
  • What resources do you have? Time, a skill set, funds? There are so many options here. Write down some of your resources you'd like to see used for a greater purpose and see what starts to emerge.
  • Where do you want to go? Are you afraid you can't travel internationally because you don't know the culture? When we call out some of our fears and start to be honest with where we are willing to go and how far we are willing to push ourselves, we can accomplish something greater and more fulfilling.

Every good story has a main character who is striving for something. So what are you striving for and what resources do you have to get there?

I can't wait to see what you're story will entail. Tweet @andystenz and @livingwater to let us know! In the next blog post I’ll talk about gathering people around you to increase your available resources. We aren't in this alone.